NEWARK, N.J. -- The road streak is alive, and the Los Angeles Kings are just three wins away from their first Stanley Cup championship since their inception in 1967.
Anze Kopitar's breakaway goal 8:13 into overtime Wednesday at Prudential Center gave the Kings a 2-1 win against the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Jonathan Quick faced only 17 shots, but he stopped 16 of them for the win.
The Kings, who improved to 3-0 in overtime this postseason, are the first team in NHL history to win its first nine road games in a single postseason. If they win Game 2 Saturday at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS), they will tie a NHL record for most road wins in a single postseason.
Oh, and there's also the small matter that another win in New Jersey this week means they will go home up 2-0 with a chance to win the Cup at Staples Center.
"We don't care about that [the road streak] right now, what the numbers are," Kings center Jarrett Stoll said. "It's just a big win, a big win in Game 1, and we focus now on Game 2 and try to win Game 2. That's it. It doesn't matter if it's two in a row or 40 in a row on the road, the numbers don't really matter right now. It's whether or not we find a way to win."
They did find a way Wednesday on a pretty play that started with captain Dustin Brown. He lost the puck near the Kings blue line, but Drew Doughty came up the wall to support him and shovel a backhanded pass up the ice to Justin Williams, who was at the red line near the area between the benches. All the while, Kopitar was coming up the middle of the ice.
Since both Devils forward Dainius Zubrus and defenseman Bryce Salvador converged on Williams, Kopitar was left alone. Williams backhanded a pretty pass into space and Kopitar got there in time to collect the puck on his tape, leading to a breakaway on goalie Martin Brodeur.
Kopitar deked to his forehand, waited for Brodeur to commit low before he shot the puck under him and into the net for his seventh goal of the playoffs and first overtime winner.
"I didn't know if they had a backchecker coming, but I knew Kopi was in the area over there," Williams said. "That's when you just throw an area pass over there; hopefully he skates into it and hopefully it's timed right. Fortunately it was."
Making it even more impressive was Williams and Kopitar were able to connect despite what the Kings were calling choppy ice.
"We were just hoping [Kopitar] would get it under control," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "Once he got it under control, you just had that feeling that he's a special player and he's delivered for us so many times this postseason. You just had a good feeling, and fortunately we were right."
Unfortunately for the Devils, their coach was also right in his post-game assessment. Peter DeBoer said he did not feel his team deserved to win the game.
"If we had have won, we would have been sneaking one out," he said.
DeBoer felt the Devils were able to play their system, with that aggressive forecheck, only in spurts. For instance, they were good at the start of the third period, but had a goal waved off 3:58 into the period, when Zach Parise was caught stuffing the puck into the net with his left hand by referee Dan O'Halloran.
Video review upheld O'Halloran's call.
"The start wasn't good," forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. "We tried to do some different things that we don't want to do and got out of our game plan a bit. We turned the puck over a lot. It's just one game. It's a long series, so we have to prepare as best as we can."
Similarly, the Kings didn't feel all that strongly about their own performance, but they used their forecheck to get the first goal of the game off Colin Fraser's stick [it was his first career playoff goal] 9:56 into the first period, so at least they had the Devils chasing for a while.
Jordan Nolan created a turnover deep in the Devils' zone and fed Fraser from behind the goal line for a one-timer from the right circle.
After going the first 14-plus minutes of the second period without a shot on goal, New Jersey got even with 1:12 left before intermission when the puck went off Kings defenseman Slava Voynov's chest and into the net. Anton Volchenkov was given credit for the goal, his first in the playoffs since Game 3 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final when he was with Ottawa.
"It could have easily been 0-0 going into overtime," Brown said. "If you look at the two goals, probably Brodeur wants that one back that he let in and they get a goal off our own guy."
As easily as it could have been 0-0 heading into overtime, the Devils were also just inches away from potentially winning the game in regulation. Mark Fayne missed a wide-open right side of the net with just over 10 minutes left in the third period. Parise also put the puck in with his glove instead of his stick earlier in the period.
"It's definitely tough knowing if one of those go in, then it would've been a win for us," Fayne said. "But it's also encouraging that we had those opportunities. We know if we keep playing hard, keep pressing then we'll get some of those bounces."
The Kings, though, plan on having something to say about that. They plan on being much better in Game 2 so they get the bounces.
They got just enough in Game 1 to, as Brown said, grind out a win.
That's nine in a row on the road. All that matters to them now is getting No. 10.
"Yeah, just find a way to win the game, any way possible," Stoll said. "A big goal, a big save, whatever the case may be. Whether it's a road win or a home win, it doesn't matter, they're all wins and you need 16 of them."